In the last few years, the South African tourism industry grew steadily, and future growth is expected until 2020. Therefore, the sector anticipates an increased number of travellers that will use accommodation services in the next few years. However, very few South African guest houses operate at full occupancy due to the wide range of accommodation choices available, and therefore lose potential revenue. In light of the millions of potential guests, guest houses should offer a distinctive, meaningful guest house service to the modern-day guest who not only wants to feel, experience and be excited, but is also willing to pay for a memorable time. It is suggested that guest house operators take note of this era characterised by the principles of the experience economy, advocating that they apply them to their businesses by staging entertaining, educational, escapist and aesthetical opportunities to lead to satisfaction and quality. This study used a quantitative, explorative and descriptive research design to identify, describe and evaluate guests lodging experiences in guest houses in South Africa; and to determine the current application of the experience economy concepts. Fieldworkers employed purposive and snowball sampling to collect cross-sectional data from 340 guests and 39 guest house managers who completed different Likert scale questionnaires. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse data. Guest profiles were well spread over the demographic categories; age, gender, income, repeat or first-time guests and reason for travel (business/pleasure). The aesthetics dimension of the guest house proved most prevalent, followed by escapism, entertainment and education. The dimensions, escapism, entertainment and education should become the focus and must be intentionally created to improve guests experiences. The consequences dimensions of the experience all measured high. Satisfaction was most prevalent followed by value, arousal and memory constructs. Overall, guest houses are not creating specialised experiences for guests and much room for improvement exists, except for the aesthetic dimension that should be maintained. Unfortunately, guest house managers and guests were loath to participate in providing information and this affected the potential of the study. Hence it is suggested that alternative ways be found to collect data from guest houses for research purposes that would ensure insight that would assist in enhancing offerings in the guest house industry.
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2015.